Legal firm acquired

Thorntons moves in as Pagan Osborne collapses

Tom MacLennan FRP
Tom MacLennan: deal ensures continuity

Law firm Pagan Osborne was put into administration yesterday and was immediately acquired by rival business Thorntons.

Tom MacLennan and Iain Fraser, partners at FRP Advisory were appointed as joint administrators.

The deal, which is for an undisclosed sum, will see the immediate transfer of 10 Pagan Osborne partners and 113 staff to Thorntons.  However, a minimum 45-day redundancy consultation period will start next week, with Pagan Osborne’s offices in Edinburgh, Cupar and St Andrews set to close. 

All staff in those offices will be advised that they are at risk of redundancy pending a review of employment requirements. 

The Pagan Osborne office in Anstruther will be retained and rebranded as Thorntons, although some redundancies will be required. Thorntons plans to save around 50 jobs. 

Commenting on the acquisition, Tom MacLennan, partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator, said: “We are delighted that Thorntons has acquired the assets, goodwill and work-in-progress of Pagan Osborne, thus ensuring continuity of client service, providing employment opportunities and safeguarding client funds.  We wish the newly enlarged business every success.”

Craig Nicol, joint managing partner of Thorntons, said: “Pagan Osborne was a long-standing, highly respected firm with a high profile in Fife and Edinburgh.  

“Our priority will be to provide a seamless transition for clients and to preserve the maximum number of jobs.  We will be in contact with all Pagan Osborne clients imminently and I would seek to reassure them that they will receive continuity of service from the newly-enlarged Thorntons team for their legal or property matters in the coming days and weeks.”  

Pagan Osborne’s roots go back more than 250 years when the Grace family founded a law firm in St Andrews, subsequently becoming known as Pagan Osborne and Grace.  The firm had more than 100 partners and staff operating out of five offices in Edinburgh and Fife. 

Thorntons was launched in 1857 on Tayside by Sir Thomas Thornton.  The firm now has 48 partners and 400 staff across 10 offices in Fife, Dundee, Perthshire, Edinburgh and Angus.   

Turnover in 2016-17 was £23.85m.  

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